3 hot travel apps!

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Ladies and Gents I hope you are sitting down and ready to download some awesome apps!  My love for travel has overtaken my timely new blog posts as I have traveled on 17 flights in the last few weeks.  My apologies everyone!

All 3 of these amazing hot apps are FREE!

 

 

Rome2Rio:

This app provides you with a quick price comparison on transport options between any 2 cities you enter.   The transport options included vary based on destination but could include flights, trains, bus, ferry, rideshare, taxi and estimated cost to drive.  While it does not take into consideration the date of travel it will quickly give you a general sense of the time and cost for each option.   It links to accommodations, attractions, and finds google ads with links to recent sales.

Here is an example:  Bangkok Thailand to Siem Reap Cambodia.

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LoungeBuddy

IMG_6095This app gives you a quick overview of your options for lounge access based on your itinerary.  While you may recall that I currently do not have status with any airline.  However  I do have lounge access though several different credit cards and one time passes.  Once you have entered into the app which credit cards, elite status, lounge club memberships you currently have you are ready to roll.

You simply enter your itinerary including the airports, airline, and cabin class.  It will provide you a list of lounge options that have you may have access to and specific details on where they are located in the airport.   It also includes details regarding hours of operation, amenities, reviews and if you are allowed to bring guests along with you.

If you you are interested in a $10 credit, use my referral code VXSJUD85U6 when you visit loungebuddy.com.

 

IMG_6629Postagram

This is an amazing app that lets you create a custom postcard with your personal photos and personalized text.  It will be sent via US Mail and be delivered within 5-7 days.  No more searching for the right postcard or stamps in foreign countries!  In addition the photo pops out of the postcard for a 3 x 3 inch photo to tuck into your purse or post on your fridge.  All this for only 99 cents a postcard!

I still highly recommend 2 of my favorite apps I blogged about last year: check out Worldmate & Triposo

 

Seek your adventure!




Falling in love with local wine one trip at a time

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2011: Mendoza Argentina

So imagine yourself in a beautiful vineyard at a wine tasting enjoying one of the most amazing wines you have had in years.  It sounds like paradise right?  It is!  You then learn from the vineyard owner that they have a very small annual production and the wine is not exported; as a matter of fact the wine is only sold locally right here at the vineyard in Mendoza Argentina.  Oh no!!!

Sadly this scenario has become a common problem for me traveling around the world and discovering some of the very best wines are not exported.  After 10 years  I still crave a wine from Stellenbosch South Africa.

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Wine tasting in Mendoza

 

 

 

How do you bring home these amazing wines?

There are a few options:

  • Ship it from the vineyard directly to your home.  This is an option that most larger vineyards provide however there are additional fees involved and it can get quite pricey quickly.
  • Buy it and then ship it yourself from a local post office.  This is usually a good option but does require some additional effort on your part and ideally you have a rental car to transport the wine.  It make take several weeks for your wine to arrive at your home and I would not recommend doing this with expensive wine.
  • Buy it and pack it in your suitcase.  My favorite choice! I have successfully transported wine from over a dozen countries as far away as Australia and South Africa.

How to pack wine in your checked luggage?

Let me start by saying that I have NEVER had a bottle of wine break in my suitcase.  I have packed up to 10 bottles into a medium roller board suitcase with no issues.  I sadly cannot guarantee your success of course but I have followed these simple steps dozens of times.

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Wine + packing materials

 

  1. Utilize a t-shirt (or any clothing item) to wrap around the bottle of wine; wrapping like a present.
  2. Place the wrapped wine bottle into a plastic carrier bag or ideally large ziplock bag to avoid any clinking.
  3. Put the plastic bag that contains the bottle into a medium packing cube.
  4. Repeat the process for 2 additional bottles of wine that will all fit firmly into one medium packing cube.
  5. In the event that you have less than 3 bottles continue to fill the packing cube with additional clothes until firmly packed.
  6. I recommend putting your shoes on the bottom of the suit case for extra protection; then load the packing cubes on top.
  7. That’s it!   Get home and enjoy some amazing wine!

Reminder: Check the customs policies for your home country.  In many countries you are allowed 3 bottles duty free but if you bring more just declare it on your customs form.  There may be a small tax but well worth the price of amazing wine!

 

Seek your adventure!

5 must have items for every travel day bag!

P1010332All trips are unique and will require something different to be carried in your day bag.  However after 60 plus countries around the world these 5 items are always in my day travel bag regardless of where I am traveling.  In a prevoius post I wrote about “5 must have items for any flight!”  and today let’s consider what you should be carrying with you before you leave your hotel for any adventure.

  1. Water bottle:  I personally drink a lot of water and always have a bottle with me regardless of the situation. I could be traveling around a big city or in the rainforest no exceptions; there I am carrying a water bottle.   You could bring your own water filter  but I always take a flat packable water bottle to refill.
  2. Note pad & pen: This has been extremely helpful in international travel to write down the name and address of the destination we are going to as my pronunciation may not always be perfect.  Just grab the one from your hotel room before you head out for the day.
  3. Headache & Pain Relief Tablets:  There is nothing worse than being on a vacation that you have waited months for and not feeling well!  I always carry 2-6 tablets with me in a teeny tiny plastic bag  in case I get a headache, tummy ache or etc.
  4. Baby wipes:  Not just for babies anymore.  These really should be called “magic wipes”  as they resolve so many travel needs from washing your hands, toilet paper substitute, getting dirt off clothes and cleaning leather shoes.
  5. Collapsible shopping bag: This is critical.  You may have absolutely no intentions of buying anything while you are out for the day.  Yet somehow you end up unexpectedly at a local market or artisans fair.  In many countries you have to purchase a bag to take your purchases home; so bring your own!  I personally have been utilizing the same set of Envirosax bags for daily shopping for over 7 years now and they are still in great condition.

Seek your adventure!

 

Shake your ji-boo-tee?

Shake your what?  Djibouti?  You have heard of it right.  Is it the new dance craze?

A few weeks ago I had never heard of this African nation called Djibouti pronounced “ji-boo-tee”.  However in less than a 24 hour period the country came up in two very different circles of conversation.  It was a sign.  We need to learn more about this country!

Sur les bords du Lac Assal, une caravane et ses nomades viennent chercher du sel.
Lake Assal: Photo property of visitdjibouti.dj

Djibouti is located on the Red Sea and Indian Ocean giving the nation a strategic advantage for Suez canal shipping lanes providing a majority of the nation’s trade.  The region has been inhabited since 8000 BC with a current population of just under 1 million speaking primarily French and Arabic.

What is there to see in Djibouti?

  • Check out Lake Abbe with a lunar atmosphere and covered with flamingos.  Famous for filming location of first Planet of the Apes movie (in review for UNESCO heritage status)
  • Take a hike among the Goda Mountains to check out the waterfalls
  • Swim or more appropriately float in Lake Assal as the salt level is similar to the Dead Sea (in review for UNESCO heritage status)
  • Snorkel with whale sharks in the Bay of Ghoubbet
  • Soak up the Arabian culture with a visit to the sea side town of Tadjourah

 

In May 2015 The Telegraph had an article “Djibouti: Africa’s hottest new travel destination” with tourism on the rise  over 300% in the last 20 years.  However tourism remains in it’s infancy I suspect due to the cost and challenges of local transportation.  I may not put this country high on my wish list however it definitely will be added to the list for a someday wish list.

For more information check out Djibouti Office National du Tourisme and Lonely Planet “Djibouti” guide book

Seek your adventure!

 

Keep your boarding pass!

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United 154: Micronesia Island hopper!

In today’s fast pace world many people are quick to dispose of things especially completed travel documents.  Several years ago I started saving all of my boarding passes as a souvenir of the trip.  On rainy days I will pull from the storage box to replay the trip video in my mind.

While the nostalgic value of a boarding pass can be easily discounted the documentation value for miles needs serious consideration.  In the event that your flight did not get credited to your frequent flier mileage account in many instances the airline will require the boarding pass as proof of travel.  This is extremely important when flying partner airlines given it is not their typical business process and the miles earned may take several days or weeks to post to your account.

I had discovered that my flight to Romania on LOT Polish Airlines had not posted to my Singapore Kris Flyer  mileage account.   Stay with me here as I clarify this; I utilized my Singapore miles account because I would earn more miles based on the fare class that I was flying than if I utilized my United Airlines or Lufthansa Miles & More account.  So my boarding pass included my my Singapore Kris Flyer number yet the miles failed to be posted to my account.   It is usually very easy to request the credit however finding the precious boarding passes in the travel closet was a bit of a chore.  Given this was nearly 10,000 miles missing it was worth a little extra time!

Seek your adventure!

The world is waiting for you!

This week I said a tearful goodbye to one of my dearest childhood friends who was tragically killed in a car accident.  It has been an urgent reminder that life is short and we should live each day to the fullest.

My advice to you this week is simple in the words of Dalia Lama:

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before”. 

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This world has so much to offer us and we need to take time to explore new places.   This could be a grand adventure to a continent, country, city; or simply a visit to the city zoo, museum or theatre.  Take the opportunity to experience new places especially those in your own backyard.  The world is waiting for you…get out there!

 

Seek your adventure!

Let’s sail away

Let’s sail away
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Getting ready to board the Queen Mary 2

Let’t take this opportunity to talk about the unique travel option of cruising.  There are an endless amount of options available for cruise trips.  I have taken several cruises in my day and I have never been disappointed.   For several years on my annual flip flop trip  I took cruises that left from Florida.   I celebrated a special birthday with several close friends on the Queen Mary 2 which was absolutely divine!

 

 

 

Here are some major advantages to taking a cruise:

  • You are staying in a “floating hotel”  and you unpack your suitcase once yet you get to experience new destinations on a daily basis
  • All of your meals are included with several different dining options on the ship
  • You can truly escape technology as you go “off the grid” with no wifi or mobile phone coverage
  • While you are onboard you do not have to carry any cash or credit cards as everything is charged to your cabin number
  • Nightly live entertainment including music, theatre, lectures which are all complimentary
  • Live art auctions where you can pick up some excellent artwork at discounted prices
  • Spa services  & gym are typically available
  • Take a stroll on the boardwalk
  • Enjoy the lounge chairs and watch the world go by
Wow this is a big ship!
Queen Mary 2: Wow this is a big ship!
Twin balcony room...
Queen Mary 2: Twin balcony cabin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some things to take into consideration before you book:

  • There are usually additional fees added onto the basic cruise price including: port fees, beverages, tips,
  • Take notice of the room size, layout, configuration as the rooms can be quite small
  • For anyone concerned about getting sea sick; investigate the size of the ship, if the ship utilizes stabilizers, typical weather  for time of year will all play into the smoothness of sea

Cruising can provide high end amenities at a low cost travel option if you find the right deal!

Seek your adventure!

 

Free currency exchange

International Bank of 1girlwhotravels
International Bank of 1girlwhotravels

For anyone traveling away from home here is a quick reminder on the basics of currency exchange.    Before you go check out the exchange rate on xe.com website or download their app.

First Place:  The best exchange rate you will get is to utilize your credit card but first confirm the credit card has no foreign transaction fees before you leave home.   The Chase Sapphire Preferred  is a great choice to use while traveling.

Second Place:  The second best option is withdrawing cash from a local ATM once you arrive.  Consider the duration of your visit or take only small amounts of money to avoid having a surplus of foreign currency when it is time to return home.

 

Consolation Prize:  Unless you are desperate never purchase currency at the airport because they give you a crappy rate and usually charge an additional fee.

Don’t even ask me about traveller’s check;  we have moved on from the 1970’s folks.

Seek your adventure!

Around the world in business class on $100!

Anyone who has ever gone to dinner or shopping with me knows that I purchase everything on a credit card.  

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View from Micronesia Island Hopper flight!

I want the points!   I am obsessed with earning points so that I can travel for free. The travel industry reports that over 75% of all airline points are NOT earned from “butt in seat” flights.

Last year was my best airline points redemptions ever, which was on my Micronesia Island Hopper trip with all flights in BUSINESS CLASS from Chicago – Honolulu – Kauai – back to Honolulu – Micronesia Island Hopper UA154 – Guam – Palau – Seoul – Tokyo – Chicago. I paid under $100 in taxes; yes you read that correctly.

The magic my friends is all in the credit cards. Now we could literally spend months talking through all the intricate details of how to earn points and the best way to spend points. However there are several amazing blogs dedicated to these topics so I would suggest visiting some of them. I have attended conference to hear these bloggers speak and they all have incredible travel tales.

I want to share with you my favorite credit card for earning points currently is Chase Sapphire.

Chase Sapphire benefits:

  • Earn 2X points on dining at restaurants from fast food to fine dining*  
  • Earn 2X points on all travel from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains*
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases*
  • 1 to 1 points transfer to the following airlines British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • 1 to 1 points transfer to the following hotels:  Hyatt Gold Passport®, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.

Check out these great blogs: 

The Points Guy

Million Mile Secrets

Johnny Jet

Seek your adventure!